Should you be concerned about purchasing drugs for your pet from unknown companies over the Internet?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says consumers should be wary of any online site offering drugs. The agency has found companies that sell unapproved pet drugs, expired drugs and counterfeit pet products, as well as companies that make fraudulent claims.
"People who purchase them may think they are saving money, but in reality, they may be shortchanging their pet's health and putting its life at risk," said Martine Hartogensis of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine.
If you do purchase your pet's medications online, you should heed the following tips, said Dr. Jennifer Coates of Colorado on her blog, Fully Vetted:
• Make sure the company is based in the United States. U.S. pharmacies are bound and overseen by local, state and federal laws and regulatory agencies. Offshore sites that illegally ship medications into the United States aren't. Look for the pharmacy's physical location and a toll-free or local telephone number on its website.
• Internet pharmacies should be licensed by the Board of Pharmacy for the state in which they reside. Enter the company's Internet address into the LegitScript.com search box to check its status. Many pharmacies also display the LegitScript seal of approval, which indicates that they agree to follow the laws and regulations of their state Board of Pharmacy, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FDA.
• And finally, look for the Vet-VIPPS (Veterinary-Verified Internet Practice Pharmacy Sites) seal and check the list of Vet-VIPPS pharmacies on www.awarerx.org.
Sites selling pet medications that have the Vet-VIPPS seal are in agreement with all federal and state regulations and National Association of Boards of Pharmacy safety standards.